It is three years now since I saw you last. I have not written in a long while. I have not written since then. Remember the handwritten letters we used to write ourselves. We’d both say that written love letters was our love language. I lied, it wasn’t mine. Spoken words of assurances and affection were mine. You, Rufai’, you were my love language. Did you lie too? I miss those times. 

Don’t fret, I have moved on. One has to move on from these things, even if it takes three years, sleepless nights, depressed thoughts and a part of your soul. Seven years of marriage is no joke. But I have moved on in less than half of it, life; fickle!

You may wonder why I am writing to you then. You have since settled with your new wife and beautiful baby. Well, one reason is because I haven’t written in a long time. And I don’t know how to write to another person but you. But I will learn soon. But there is another reason. I want to finally tell… THE TRUTH!

Rufa’i, when the truth came out, it was not the truth, it was the truth you had to see to let go. But in reality… it is so different from what you found out, what you thought you knew. I didn’t tell you all this while because I knew your mind was made up, and I knew our marriage was not salvageable, I knew mistrust and resentment had fermented and simmered the places our love was meant to block, there was no turning back, I had to free you, so I let them finally crack us apart.

I will stop with the long introduction now and just dive right into it. I did not do it Rufa’i. How could you possibly believe that after 10 years of being together and holding each other’s hands I could hurt you and liaise with your enemies? I hate Aminu, you know I do. I know how the papers leaked and I am sorry to say that it was your brother. I remember the day he came to get them. You were not around. He just swaggered in and demanded to go to your study. I said I couldn’t let him in without your permission, he assaulted me, hit my head on the wall. I swear it. I had a bruise afterwards, remember? You asked about it and I told you I hit an open cabinet door. I ran and locked myself in my room. 11th December, 2019, three years ago today, check the CCTV footage if you think I am lying. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to cause a rift between brothers, your family already hated me as it was. Anyway, he proceeded to your study. Apparently that was where he got the documents and took some money too. Check the footage. I am only sorry I didn’t tell you this earlier, but I didn’t want to cause a problem. Your brother took those documents to Aminu and made the hostile takeover possible, I am sorry you lost most of your fortune. I really am. But I am glad you have rebuilt it back up. You are a resilient man Rufa’i.

I have always told you you trust too easily, and you had always said it was because I have trust issues, and both have been true. Last year, I launched an investigation regarding the assassination attempt. Because my spirit was never at ease knowing you will always associate that incident with me. Why? How? Come on Rufa’i, you know me better than everyone and just because the police who were actually paid to blame me said it was me, you decided to believe them? I have helped you unravel the case and you had better fire Solomon and hand him over to the authorities because it was all him and your brother working for Aminu. I know this sounds unbelievable, I am finding it hard to believe myself, Solomon was family, or so we had thought. I have attached all proof with pictures, names and transactions. Remember the man the police caught who confessed to the attempted assassination, the man who said it was me? Guess where he is now? Not in prison. It was all staged, a fake ‘suspect’, they set him free after the deception was done. I have attached his address so you can go check yourself. I swear it, I can’t lie to you Rufa’i, we have had too good a life for me to do that, the fact that you think I have done those things and that I am your enemy rips me apart every day, but I am telling you the truth now. Beware of who you call family.

Your mother doesn’t know your brother had a hand in those treacherous acts, I know they were close but she could never do that to you. So I beg you to please not tell her, it will end her. Especially since your brother is dead now. It is not worth it. She is a great woman who only wanted the best for you, even if she thought I was not on that list. Even if she believed Asiya was on that list. She had always wanted it to be Asiya. She said I had jazzed you. Lol. I? You know the love we shared, think back now and reason if it had a single element of jazz.

I know what you are thinking. What will explain the charms found in our home and the bottle with your picture, a black empty shell, a paper with words written in a foreign language, the skin of a mottled snake and some weird items in it tied by a rope which was locked with three leather padlocks. I know you are wondering how they couldn’t have been my doing when I was seen burying them. Yes, I did. I buried them but listen I was given these things in a closed plastic bag and was told not to open them by her driver Mallam Dahiru, she told me to bury them, Wallahi Rufa’i your mother did. I am so sorry, I didn’t want to tell you but I have to, she told me that it was for your protection and to strengthen our home. I didn’t even believe in all of that, but I humoured her. I have never denied I did it, I just opted not to tell you who made me. Ask Mallam Dahiru. Then go and check her phone. She sent a message to me on the 5th of August, 2019 telling me Mallam Dahiru is coming with the package and that I should call her for instructions on how to use them. Please go and check our correspondences if she still has them and tell me you didn’t see that. All our other conversations were over the phone but this one was a text, I’m glad it was. At least you will see some proof.

Why, you ask? To break us apart and get you together with Asiya obviously. Because I couldn’t give you children and her beloved goddaughter Asiya, the chosen one who could do no wrong could. I am not being bitter, I am just reminiscing about how we both were blindsided. And I daresay she has succeeded. I don’t know if Asiya has a hand in it, but well… I have asked around and charms like those could only be done by the other party to their object of affection. Your mother could not have acted without your wife. I am so sorry you are finding these things out now and this way.

One more thing, if you still doubt the charm incident, you still have a picture of it on your phone I suppose. That image you sent to me raving about how I was doing diabolical stuff to you… hmmm. I am still trying to get the words you used out of my head Rufa’i. The ache is still raw. Anyway, please zoom in a particular picture with the bottle snapped from behind, you’ll see the word Rufa’i and below it Asiya. It is faint, but zoom well and try, you’ll see it. I didn’t notice until last year too. I don’t think I need to say much after that. 

Everyone chose to blame me because I was an easy blame. But I have to move on. Just like you did. I have to create a new life too. I am sorry if this may sound selfish but I need to dispense with all these burdens for me to completely be ready for a clean slate. I hope you won’t take any drastic actions after reading this. Afterall, it is past, your brother is dead, and no one is after you now. Hopefully no one is after you, seeing that you are rising again, you can never be too sure.

I don’t know how to round this letter up. Be careful Rufa’i. I hope life treats you better than it treated me. Please don’t feel bad in my case, we had a good thing, the best thing really, but it overstretched its duration. Even though we never had any problems as a couple and you know it. You know we had a loving marriage before it all went awry, I believe not all things are meant to last till eternity. I am terribly sorry you are finding these things out now. Please take it easy. Don’t think too much of it since everything is working out fine for you. Good luck Rufa’i.

This is the last you will hear of me. 

Yours…

Maimuna.

I re-read the letter, lower my glasses and rub my temple. Well, this was a hard day’s labour. 

I really do feel for Rufa’i. No one deserves this. But then again, maybe some people do. Maybe some people do, for throwing away people that have stood by them for people that are opportunistic. The letter should have reached Rufa’i a few hours ago. He should have read it by now. I am sure he probably has. I am picturing his reaction, it is not pretty. He will come.

It is two days after the letter has been sent now, I hear the knock, I know who it is. You know who it is too, reader, afterall, we knew this would happen when we sent the letter. I don’t open the door immediately. I am composing myself. I wait for a few more frantic bangs before I rush downstairs from my room to open the door. He is here, Rufa’i is here. He has come to me. As I knew he would. And boy does he look like a mad bull has run him over. My face is full of pity and understanding when I gesture him in without uttering a word. He looks haggard, helpless, lost.

“It is all over Maimuna”. He says. Oh! how I have missed this voice. I swallow hard so he doesn’t see how his presence and words affect me. Even though he looks like a worn out, sun beaten copy of his charming, vibrant self, his presence will always make my heart sing. 

“I am so sorry” I half-whisper with a sad shake of my head. My voice is uneven, tears are pooling in my eyes. It was all your fault, I say in my mind. It was all your fault.

You shouldn’t have thrown me away when you found out about the documents and the assassination attempt and the charms Rufa’i. You should have listened to ME, your wife! But you just yelled and judged and declared me guilty. You chased me away with nothing but the house you gifted me to mark our fifth anniversary. You did not even look back at me who used my father’s connection and some other less decent methods to get you the contracts that built you. I quite literally made you! And you turned it all to dust.

Everything I did was out of love. Just like everything I do now. The documents? Yes I gave them to Aminu to sabotage you but it was only because the richer you got, the more your mother  and all those hungry girls wanted to take you away from me goddamit! You had to go down, lay low, so they could get their stinking paws off you! Yes I am screaming! 

The video of your brother in your study is a doctored one. I paid your maintenance guy to splice it in. I hope you see it and and I hope your heartbreaks for disbelieving in me. He is dead, there is no one to prove me otherwise. You can confront Aminu but he will just scoff at you and term you crazy. He is too arrogant to try to defend himself.

The assassination attempt was just that, an attempt. To scare you. I would never, ever hurt you. You should know that. I would rather hurt everyone else, all of them. But I had to stage a scare so you could come back to me, to my arms, trust in only me. It worked for a while, before that bloody sniffing policeman discovered the man I paid. But no worries, I have made sure they released the man. He will sing Solomon’s name now. He will tell you Solomon paid him to lie about me. And the proof I attached of Solomon being shady is true, yes he is shady, doing things behind your back, but not to that extent. You don’t need to know that though. He will try to explain that he was merely defrauding you, and you will not listen. Just like you did me. 

The charm? Come on. Any woman that charms a man must just love him as much. Besides, it was just reinforcement. I know you love me. I can sense it, see it. Now that I think about it, I knew the charm thing was fraud, you still married Asiya even though the names written were to keep you apart. But like I said, reinforcement.

Yes your mother sent something for me to use on you. Kayan mata, hogwash. We never needed aphrodisiacs to spice up our intimate life, we created fire in the bedroom and sizzled the sheets. We were so good together in all aspects you see. But I collected them from Mallam Dahiru anyway. And I gave them to my househelp to use. I didn’t need all that. Besides, I couldn’t trust your mother. I couldn’t trust anyone. I don’t trust anyone. All these things I am telling you with my eyes, Rufa’i. All these truths. Saying them for the last time before I close them off, erase them, throw them away, brand them hallucinations and actually believe that they never happened.

Now you are here crying to me. It is all over for the second time for you. All the things I told you have been corroborated and you believe me. But you are done fighting. You are tired. Your life starts taking shape and then it crashes. And that is why I am here. Your rock.

“I am so sorry Maimuna” You say for the hundredth time or what feels like it. I am fighting between being broken and pitying you. How do you treat a man who picked the world against you only to find out that the world was wrong?

I know I shouldn’t let you hug me. We are not married. But you seem so broken. You seem like you want to do anything to make it stop. You seem like I am the only home you know. So I let you. And I pat your back and I tell you it is alright. You are a strong man Rufa’i. You will bounce back. But listen, you can never truly stand tall without me. We both know that, and that is why I have steered you back to me. I will always look out for us, the means I use don’t matter, the end is all that is important.

My heart is filled with so much love when you say “You are the only family I have”. I smile. You don’t see it, but I smile. You are always so trusting. You didn’t read my letter well it seems, oh well, some things never change. You obviously missed the part where I wrote. “Beware of who you call family”.

Let me tell you exactly what life does to you. Let me tell you what to expect just when you think you’ve got it all figured out and your path is set and you are the star of your own damn story. Life just pulls the rug right beneath your size 40 feet. Life says, ‘nah, she is having too much fun. Time for a spin’. And spin you around it does. Only, you never enjoy the ride, not really, you know you are on the roller coaster and you are screaming your throat out and you are holding on the rail for your dear life and sometimes you want to let go but you still want to live despite the topsy, turvy, because you have hope, even though you shouldn’t. You know you shouldn’t. You know you are on that ride and someone is screaming in glee behind you, enjoying it thoroughly, wholesomely, and you know it is not you.

Everyday, I wake up envisioning how life would have been different if I had just made a single different decision that day. Every day, for a full minute, I imagine I had made a different decision that day. And the things that had happened had not happened, and my life had not taken a turn for the worse in one split second, with one death.

I lay, face up on the thinned out mattress of my steely, springy bed, my eyes closed, my body rod straight, my breath slow and calculated and my mind away from the smell of permanent moisture on concrete permeating the room. And I see how my day would have panned out. How my life would have panned out.

It would have been a blessing to have woken up with a fever that day. I wouldn’t have minded. It would mean I would stay at home, bedridden, cold, dizzy, shivering with a bitch of a headache. But I would have been under warm sheets, a cup of hot pap or tea by my side, my Mama trying to get me to eat or take medicine. 

What if I was healthy and not bedridden? But I had decided to be lazy that day. So when I stepped into the kitchen that morning to meet my sister making kosai by the gas cooker, and she asked me as she dropped spoons of the mixture into the hot oil ‘Will you come accompany me to Aisha Tijjani’s son’s naming ceremony later?’ , What if I had said ‘I am not really in the mood for socializing’ instead of ‘Isn’t she the one who married that rich guy and had that big Instagram wedding where you guys ate like 15 different assortments of meals? Of course I’ll go’. My sister had laughed. She knew food was the way to my heart.

When Hausa people say ‘Kwadayi mabudin wahala’. 

‘Craving is the key to opening the door of suffering’, I had thought it meant when you are trying to steal meat from a pot that is still on fire and you grab the metal ladle and it is so hot you want to let it go but you want that piece of meat. So you go ahead and pick the meat from the ladle, even though the pain is searing through your fingers. And you juggle the meat while you head to your room, and take a bite, it is still too hot, and right before you reach your room you mom approaches. And you have to close your mouth though you can feel the heat dancing within, emanating from it. Or when you sip from your sister’s too hot tea, the one she told you not to touch and it burns your tongue badly, and it takes days of not tasting meals to heal. I thought that was the suffering. I thought the height of it was people treating you badly because you crave their attention or money or something. But the height of it was about to happen to me. I should have known, because the height of it is why we are on Earth, the forbidden fruit, craving.

 It could have been avoided had my Mama said I should stay behind and not follow my sister to Aisha Tijjani’s house because I had to make lunch and I would have pouted in disappointment and I would have grudgingly stayed back moaning all the great food I would miss, but she did not. So I went.

I wish I hadn’t a fondness for children. An earnest fascination of the little beings. So that when my sister and I had arrived at the big, beautiful duplex that was Aisha Tijjani and her influential husband’s house, and I had stayed by the side, just inconspicuous enough to not be really noticed, but not enough to be missed when the food came. And I had consumed the mouth watering basmati chinese rice with prawn chunks, the variety of beef dishes, some minced, some mixed with something, and I had revelled in the lushness of the doughnuts, wondering about how rich Aisha’s husband was and whether my boyfriend, Lawal will ever get that rich, whether I wanted to marry someone who couldn’t give me enough money to impress my uninvited guests at our first son’s naming ceremony. So after all that, I would have stayed back, pressed my phone and not move closer to my sister when my stomach was full. What if I had not peeping into the baby’s face, taking in his rosy skin, lushful lashes and peaceful sleep, and feeling the need to carry it.

I wouldn’t be here, on this bed, lying flat on my back, thinking what could have been, if I had peeped and left. But I extended my hands towards the bundle, and I carried its weighless self close to my chest and I cuddled it against me, feeling the softness of the blanket covering it, knowing it must be luxury to be this soft, wondering how much it must have cost, wondering if, maybe, in the future, Lawal will get enough money to provide our son with such luxury blankets and and luxury baby clothes, and luxury mittens, and luxury, branded pacifiers so that the uninvited guest who came majorly to eat and by extension open her door to suffering could reason about it.

What if I had promptly given the baby back as it was squirming and writhing lazily, it’s tiny, pale arm moving as if it was casting a spell? What if I had given it back to its mother so that whatever was to happen in the next few minutes would be on her. Would she have been made to be in my position? I always wondered. But I hadn’t. I had sat staring at the baby, I was wearing a smile, my last untainted one. I had mumbled a little sorry and moved my leg when a figure brushed past me and almost tripped. A few seconds later was when the baby pitched a sharp yell. A few seconds later was when the baby started squirming. A few seconds later was when foam started coming out of the baby’s mouth. A few seconds later was when the baby went limp, when it died. I screamed when it’s little, full, pretty mouth started emitting white foam. I screamed at my sister to make it stop. I screamed for help. I screamed for it’s mother to see, for the world to see. But they saw me holding the lifeless body of the only son of a man with power. A son he had tried to get for so long and had finally gotten with his third wife. They saw me and they said I was the murderer, the doctors said it was poisoning, it was instant, it had happened when I was holding him, the kliller was therefore me, and the baby was the key to the door of my suffering.

I am haunted. The baby’s scent of rich powder, cologne and fabric conditioner haunts my nose. The broken, disbelieving, accusatory eyes of Aisha Tijjani as I held the corpse of her baby who I had apparently poisoned haunts my vision. The voices of women screaming out prayers or yelling out in horror at the sheer mortification of what had just happened haunts my ears. And the day, the day my life was rugpulled in one second beneath my size 40 feet haunts my entire existence.

Till this day, whenever I get to go outside, the clouds look like white death foam coming out of a baby’s mouth.

I was apprehended, the whole country went berserk, they wanted my head; the parents were a people’s favourite, the baby was an angelic image, I was a heartless bitch of a murderer who had killed the baby because of ritual purposes, so they had said, so everyone had believed. I was tried, I was convicted. My sister, my witness, could not say anything to vindicate me. My lawyers could not prove anything to extricate me. It couldn’t not have been me because someone needed to be blamed, afterall, they had said, afterall, the needle containing the poison that was pushed into the baby’s skin was found near my leg. And the bigger pack was found inside my bag. My bag, located at the far corner near the plush chair where I sat so I could not be really seen, but I could be fed.

I am now at the present. I open my eyes and stare at the bottom of the metal bunk above me. I sit up and lower my legs to the cool concrete floor that is almost always moist. It makes the female prison ward smell like wet earth and something of terrible disposition. I shudder, because I am here. Despite not wanting to believe it possible. Despite wondering every morning if things would have been different had I… Despite being innocent, knowing that it was that figure that had bumped into my leg and almost tripped, knowing I can never prove it, I never saw her face, no one ever saw  it happen, knowing someone had to be blamed; Aisha Tijjani and her husband needed someone to pay, Nigeria needed it. Despite it all, I am here. And I wonder what Mama is doing, if Aisha Tijjani can give her husband another son or if he needed a new wife for that, if Lawal can ever be rich enough to afford marrying three wives.

Let me tell you exactly what life does to you. It takes your perfectly stable world, it shakes it like it is an ancient lamp. It awakes the contents of that pandora’s box. You feel your head banging against that box, your life is now up, side, down.


‘Who doesn’t like money abeg?’ I shake my head comically at the obviousness of my wise saying.

‘That’s why you work for it. Not say that you have to marry a man who has money. That’s gold digging’. The fact that Yasmin says things like these and still feels like she is the smartest tot that roams the earth escapes my comprehension. 

‘Mining my darling’ I correct her ‘Gold digging sounds stressful and illegal. When you mine, you are reaping the natural endowments of the person and showing him his potential by investing in you. Doesn’t mean I won’t make money, but my money is mine and his money is my mine. Note the difference?’. I cross my fingers that just finished gesticulating the mathematical structure of my definition to her and smile victoriously. 

‘Mine and my mine’ Fafa says. ‘Good one’ She laughs in what might be a sarcastic or genuine laugh, I keep my smile on. Fafa might be annoying but she appreciates genius .

‘You still sound like a gold digger’ Yasmin says, her signature blank look smack on her face.

‘You sound like poverty mentality’ I roll my eyes.

‘You’ Fafa directs at me in between munching on chocolate chip cookies ‘sound like a wise sage to me’. See, Fafa has sense.

Yasmin’s sense of morality is warped. She believes she is a moral compass and world morality guide and in the same stride, believes the actions of Thanos can be justified. He just wanted to depopulate to save the future generation. Huh?!?!

I tell her so.

‘Thanos’s reasoning is logical. It isn’t moral’ she explains.

‘Okay so logic supersedes morality?’.

She thinks for a while before nodding. ‘Logic supersedes everything’.

‘Tell me better logic than securing one’s comfort in the future by marrying a rich person. And I’m being gender neutral here’.

‘The person can lose all that in the blink of an eye’.

‘Aaandd…’ I stress on the word for emphasis ‘the person might not. I am someone who has a hustler mentality, even though I don’t actually do the work’ I quickly add the second part while gazing directly at Fafa. Her head had shot up when I said I am a hustler at heart. 

But I am. I am someone who sees potential everywhere; potential in people, in places and in ideas. The biggest enemy to actual implementation of my ideas is my fear of failing, of disappointing myself. It makes me unwilling to act.

‘Success is actually more important’. Yasmin presses on. I can see that she’s taking the discussion way more serious than it ought to be and no matter how smart she is, I don’t see myself arguing on and on with a 19 year old. She may know the books, but honestly, she’s yet to see the world in its truly elusive and whimsical form.

‘Yeah. You are right’ I say in all seriousness because I agreed. ‘Just make sure the success comes with money’.

She sighs but doesn’t say anything else. The finality in my voice has communicated that the conversation is dead for me.

I smile a bit as I scan through my phone. If only… if only my siblings know the real me. If only they know that the tough face I put up almost all the time is a facade, and I am not half as composed or confident as I may seem. And I don’t have my act together just because I am done with school with a good grade. And I am actually a big softie at heart.

If only Yasmin realises there are a dozen things I search for in a potential partner and finances doesn’t even rank top 5 on my list. Loyalty does, and trustworthiness and understanding, because I believe if that was a solid foundation in my parents marriage, then they would have weathered the storm heads-on. Wouldn’t they?

Money on the other hand, it destroyed everything.

But I have to be strong. For everyone. For my sisters who, no matter what, see me as a beacon and look up to me before taking actions. For my brother who is like a newly blinded man searching his way through a haunted maze.

For Mama whose hurt is still deep and whose regret has started surfacing.

For Baba and his new world, I have to show them we are strong to hold off our end.

For me though, all I want is for everything to get sorted out, for everything to go back to how it was so that I can stop pretending to be this happy, calm and sane person when anxiety and lack of confidence on what the future holds racks my every vein.

I feel a ball of tears sneak up my throat and I swallow it down. Things can never go back to the way they were. That I know. I just pray it can somehow get better.

That is why you need money Nana. You need to actually start seeking it. I have been racking my brain, trying to figure out what people may need during the lockdown, something to engage them and get their money at the same time.

A knock on the door makes me snap back to Earth. 

‘Yasmin’ I say without raising my head from my phone and she immediately stands up to get the door.

‘Daddy is looking for you’ the messenger says before turning and leaving just as suddenly as she came.

I shake my head in despair, here goes.

He’s in his parlour entertaining the never ending troop of guests and political vultures. I perch on the dining chair, my head buried in my phone.

Fafa goes straight to the fridge and fishes out a tub of Häagen Dazs then sits down to dig in. Yasmin stands erect by the grand white show glass, her arms wrapped around her impatiently. She was doing something on her laptop when we were summoned and she is no doubt eager to go back to it.

We proceed to be granted an audience after the batch leaves. We are barely seated when Jamil comes in with Kamil in tow. Kamil’s eyes light up when he sees us and he immediately rushes to my side.

‘Nanaaaa!’ He exclaims and hugs my feet. I hug him back with a large grin. 

‘Big boy! How are you?’. I pick him up and place him on my lap.

‘Fine. A mished you’ he says, his palms squishing my cheeks. I struggle to smile against the pressure of the tiny hand.

‘I missed you too. You are going to follow me today right?’. 

He nods. 

‘I’ll get my clothes from my Mommy now. I’ll go to your house for 10 days ’I chuckle as he holds up three fingers. Then he slips off my lap and runs to his Mom.

Baba is smiling when I turn back to him. I immediately lose mine. He might have noticed, he might not have, but I rarely smile around him. He lost that privilege years ago.

Baba asked how everyone is and we answered in the affirmative of course, with probably only me doubting the sincerity behind his question. 

After handing us our upkeep and allowance, he announced that he was giving us each capital to venture into something worthwhile since we weren’t neither in school nor working because COVID said so. It is almost like he had read my mind. My brain has already started reeling. What am I good at? What can I do to invest this money and turn it over?

The money was to be sent to our various accounts. Baba was worried about Yaya and how he was going to spend his. It is not unfounded, we all know he can spend all of that money in unnoble ways within a few days. 

The painful clench to my heart is back and I have cycled back to blaming Baba for everything. Afterall, Yaya was perfectly fine before he broke us. But for how long can I blame him and avoid accountability. What happened had happened, no matter how much I’d like to hold Baba responsible for everything, we needed to take charge of our future.

Ayyyeee! See who is grown up. I listened to a podcast last night about forgiveness and letting go and apparently it’s doing small wonders. About time. 


Legend has it that there was once a family that was as close to the ideal family as could be.

The parents were the best of companions, constantly teasing each other, eliciting so much laughter, the best buddies. The children were mostly well-groomed and obedient and they got together well except for the occasional sibling fight.

They weren’t rich in this family, they were comfortable. Never lacked, never had in excess… they were the second bed laid on by goldilocks…. just right.

And then it all came crashing like the Wall of Jericho when the father joined politics. At first it was all good. Politics fit him well enough for someone who just started. Their comfort-o-meter was moving towards the greener light.

Before they got too comfortable however, Baba announced he had gotten married.

He did not say ‘I want to get married’ or ‘I have the intention of getting married’ or ‘my heart is doing me like I should marry’ he said ‘I have married another woman’. Hell did not break loose in the house after that declaration, hell became a tenant.

Maleficent moved in a month later. Apparently she was introduced to Baba by her brother who is part of his political circle months earlier. She is a good looking, young, widowed lady whose late husband left with two kids and a huge pile of money. Scratch that she’s not good looking, she’s beautiful. Sometimes I wonder why she chose to marry my father when she can chose from many different men who have more to offer.

I’m not saying Baba has nothing to offer, he is a very charming, charismatic and intelligent man and he ages very well. But she is so much richer than him I’d have expected a woman with a dark heart like hers will look for a place with more riches for her vampire fangs to suck.

Anyway, two months prior to the announcement, a massive renovation was initiated in the house near ours. We were so excited to get new neighbors; ‘maybe I’ll get a friend. And from the looks of it, they are definitely rich’- Fafa.

‘I just hope they don’t have a dog who’ll bark all night and stop me from sleeping’- Yasmin grudgingly.

‘Maybe they will have a tall, dark and handsome son who will be all posh and will sweep me off my feet’- Me in my mind.

 Me in reality- ‘This house is too fine, I bet they will be snobs’. 

A month later, Maleficent with no conscience/ The wicked stepmother moved in. Apparently she bought the house and beat it to fit her wicked tastes. 

Who does that?! Who marries a man with a family unannounced, buys the house sharing the same fence with his family, renovate it into a beautiful duplex that makes his existing home look like a gargoyle, and then a few years later, make sure he divorces his wife?. I’ll tell you, devil’s apprentice.

So I wanted to build up on the part where she led to my parents eventual separation but I’m too mad for that. Besides I may never share this journal with anyone because of the boringness in my life. So yeah, it marked the beginning of fights and mistrust in my parents life.

My siblings and I were all but sidelined. I literally had to pick up the maternal broom, I was 17, I should have been planning for prom.

Well Mama might be meek and after the initial brouhaha, she was willing to let things slide but she is no pushover. So when things got unbearable, when Baba wouldn’t come to our side for a month even though there’s a door that joins both houses from within, when he wouldn’t send upkeep money or he’ll retaliate at the slightest provocation, she left. 5 years later, we still aren’t over it.

Pretty messed up right? Honestly I didn’t expect it to be worse than this but well, my brother followed her soon after. According to the WSM, he was being very rude, discourteous (isn’t that basically the same thing?) and downright insultive to her. From what I heard, she made it seem like he was being almost violent, which is the fattest lie in the books; my brother is almost too gentle for a guy. Anyway, he was always fighting with Baba. Baba was always picking faults in his every behavior. She was always adding fire to the existing bad blood between father and son and then there was us, the three younger sisters trying to team up for our brother and fight for his innocence, in the end, we lost.

He moved out and moved in with Mama who is back in her fathers house occupying her mothers room. The thought of it alone disturbs me all the time. It makes me feel so bad thinking of Mama back in her fathers house because where else will she live? With all the other step mothers and siblings and relatives looking at her like the sad divorcee kicked out of her home. 

And it annoys me to no end that she has to move from a comfortable city house to live in an old-setting house with toilets outside of rooms and musty blinds and linens, dusty uneven plastered walls and rickety roofs. It makes me so mad. One of the reasons I need to make me money so soon and so bad. 

I know this makes me an ungrateful, selfish and probably cursed child but sometimes I feel like I wouldn’t mind Baba dying because that will bring an end to all this fiasco and I can use my inheritance money to get Mama a house. But I quickly try to get tid of that thought and conveniently blame shaytan, though I doubt it, I can be pretty dark myself.

What else haven’t I spoken about regarding our dysfunctionality apart from the fact that we (my sisters and I) still reside in our old home and at first we were getting food from the main house but it later trickles to nothing, instead, we get shopping money, buy food items and make our meals which is honestly more preferable if we get the money on time. Most times, we have to ask him and I hate the idea of asking Baba about anything and Fafa isn’t a fan either so we usually leave it to Yasmin. She has no problem getting the dough from him. Usually he sends us some lumpy pocket money and while Fafa collects hers with a smile and counts already thinking up ways to destroy the money, I grudgingly accept mine mumbling on how I cannot be bought; and truthfully, I wouldn’t mind not getting bribed into forgetting the destruction of our happiness by him.

Let’s talk about the step siblings. A male; Jamil;16; surprisingly good boy. Likes to play game and eat doughnuts everyday. Smart enough, responsible with his sister, tries to keep her in line. Not a fam of his mom’s attitude. Tries to be nice to us (was over nice at first because he thought he just gained a new family but we weren’t so forthcoming, surprise!!!!) and we are actually cordial, sometimes familial with him. I always remind myself that it’s not his fault, helps a bit.

Then Hanan; 14; bland personality honestly. Nothing to her. Got some of her mothers pretty features. I feel like she is too plain minded to be wicked. But then I feel like she might snap out of it and gain a personality when she blooms. We exchange greetings. Sometimes I ask how is school? She looks back like I just spoke Mandarin, not rudely; like she doesn’t get it. So I sigh and move on.

Her kids aren’t little no-good meanies and that makes things a bit easier to deal with.

Then our half brother; Kamil; three years old, a little angel. The reason I usually go to the other side. We honestly share a different I kind of love. Sometimes I bring him back with me because he wouldn’t let go. One time, he even spent teh night, his mother surprisingly didn’t mind. She doesn’t mind our relationship with the kids, she especially Kamil. ‘I wouldn’t wantnto come between siblings’ she says self-righteously. Oh yeah? How about coming between families huh?

I guess that’s it. The important ones you should know. There are unimportant people by the side like Umaima, WSM’s relative some-how and the messenger, Rahina, WSM’s younger sister who is 31 and very childish, silly and inappropriate but thinks she is the smartest pants lying around on the street and some others I couldn’t care less about

So my grand plan is to not go out into the sun. It makes me look like a half-baked witch when all my vanity wants is to resemble some Nubian beauty princess who has all the rich princes trying to get the glass slipper on and she doesn’t have to work a day again in her life.

I’ll try to not go out, I mean the government are basically begging us not to and I’ve heard rumors of curfew so perfect. I’ll drink only detox water. If I must go out even within the house, I need to have on sunscreen. I’ll exercise because Ciara body will not make itself. I want step out into the world after my estimated three months and look like a glossy ‘Vanity‘ magazine cover come to life. Y’all are not ready.

There’s however only one problem, my vanity is so vain and poor hence my quest for money. I need to utilise this lack of work period to venture into money making things that aren’t necessarily as deep as yahoo yahoo but kinda deep. I need an entire wardrobe overhaul because I want to attend rich people weddings and meet rich people friends and just bask in rich peoples glory even if for a while before I eventually get tired like I do with everything.

I need to purchase the baddest assest skin and hair care products so I can rock the baddest assest skin and hair and bags! I need fancy bagssss of life. I need lipgloss because they are an absolute necessity. Apart from having naturally dry lips, Iipgloss make me have an attitude. This baby is going to be born again.

But before all that, I need to open my eyes, get off this bed, greet the wicked stepmother and her husband who happens to father my siblings and I, get pissed by them for all of three minutes because I am tired of their pissful attitude, call my mother to calm me, piss some sister off or vice versa, eat a big fat burger and suya , gain weight and await apocalypse. 

Awesome! Sounds like a solid plan for a good day.

Fafa is up when I go to the parlor. Sometimes, it’s like she never sleeps. You go to her room in the middle of the night and the lights of her phone will be reflecting her face. You’ll think she is doing something reasonable then 5 hours later, you are on Twitter and you discover your sister had tweeted in the middle of the night how she can’t sleep because of mosquitoes or how she’ll die if she doesn’t eat seafood that night. Then one Arewa Twitter person will tell her to go eat crayfish from her mothers kitchen and she’ll laugh along on the timeline but will call him bastard in reality.

‘Oh! You are up’ she says after glancing at me.

‘Nope. I say with a yawn. ‘I’m fast asleep. It’s called somnambulism; sleep walking’.

She lets out a loud fake laugh then almost immediately dons on a blank face.

I walk to the kettle and fetch her pre-boiled water- because I know there’s always hot water where there’s Fafa as her constant high is one god-awful tea concoction or the other- I pour a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar and hold my nose as I gulp.

‘What’s that meant to do? Spark up ulcer?’ Fafa the intermeddler asks.

‘Weight loss’ I reply shortly.

‘All I see is ulcer’ she shrugs.

‘Just because you are fighting your internal battles-literally’ I add with a smug smile ‘- doesn’t mean we all will’.

She shrugs. ‘Whenever you feel the heartburn rising, just know that I have Mama’s puke-worthy concoction for that’.

‘You and Mama always have one medicine or the other for everything in life’.

She smiles enigmatically. ‘What can I say? It’s a gift’.

I roll my eyes. ‘Any food from the other side?’ I ask her.

She shakes her head without looking up from her phone. I sigh and look for something to eat from the kitchen; some bread, some mayo….will do.

Where’s Yasmin? I ask Fafa after the gulping my last spoon of cereals and internally wondering of what use the vinegar is since I just ate bread with mayonnaise and a bowl of cornflakes.

She shrugs. ‘Probably on the other side’. I contort my face to mirror Fafa’s. Apparently Yasmin is so loveable even the wicked stepmother likes her. The wicked stepmother liking you is the biggest deal; equal to winning a nobel prize for likeability.

There’s a knock on the door. The messenger has arrived, I think. What does she want now, someone to back her while she dazzles Baba with a spell?

I open the door expecting to see Umaima, Mommy’s somehow relative who is always the one sent with messages for us. My eyebrows shoot up when I see the tired person standing by the door.

‘What brings you here this early morning?’ I ask him.

He frowns, pushes himself in and settles on the couch.

‘You too? It’s my father’s house last time I checked’.

I almost roll my eyes. ‘I mean isn’t it too early… never mind’ I stop myself. Everything you say will be definitely misconstrued and be given a negative meaning by him.

‘Good Morning Yaya’ Fafa greets him. He merely nods back at her.

‘Aren’t you going to school?’ He asks

‘Baba says it’s not safe, besides it’s closing on Monday.’.

He snorts and shakes his head. ‘As if he cares’. 

I shake my head at the ridiculous dysfunctional family I have and go back to my room to freshen up.

Baba is on everyone’s not-good book. But he is definitively on my brother, Abdullah’s bad book. We call Abdullah, Yaya as he is the eldest in the house but he sure doesn’t act like it..

Yaya doesn’t stay in the same house with us, he left with Mama upon the arrival of the (Wicked step mother) WSM; short. She literally kicked them out.

The story of my family’s fall from the grace of one single unit to a dismembered chopped off family tree started some 6plus years when my father decided it was wise to join politics. Then maleficent set her eyes on him, then he fell in love and everything came crashing.

When I come out, I find Yaya lounging on the couch. Yasmin is back from her visit to the other side and Fafa is on the phone with her loud friend Naima. No one needs to be told when Fafa is talking to Naima because Fafa’s throat also gains an amplifier and they start a shouting match trying to be heard over the others din.

Like calm down sisters it’s called a phone, they don’t do town criers anymore.

‘Good Morning Nana’ Yasmin greets me.

I answer her and she intercepts me before I ask where she was. ‘Mommy sent me a text asking me to help her with some calculations of her record of accounts. I think something is fishy, her staff may be shortchanging her’.

I stare at her for some time before I nod. ‘Okay Sherlock’  I say loud enough for her to hear.

Yasmin is the only one among my siblings who relates well with the WSM and with Baba because one;

She is the young sweet one (to them)

She is the smart one

She is unrebellious 

She is the one who has so much potential they had better gotten her on their side so they can claim their accolades when she joins NASA

She is just the model child, miss-goody-two-shoes, forgive-everyone lets-live-in-peace-and-harmony. *Eye roll*

Sometime I see her as a traitor, sometimes I feel she isn’t being true to herself, she is trying to conform to what everyone expects of her, she is trying to be liked by everyone except of course we, the siblings. With us, she bring out her thorny side.
But you of course can’t say a thing because everyone will say it’s envy. I am older than that brat with 5 years and I sure am not jealous of her for nada. I Just can’t live a life of ‘yes’ to everyone and everything, I’d rather be fed to the crocodiles, neither can Yaya. Fafa is in the middle, rebellious but useful enough to be liked or at least tolerated. I don’t even try pleasing them, it pisses them off. 

It’s possible it’s because when the WSM crashed my family, Yaya and I were the most affected because we were more mature and we saw what it did to our mom. Whatever is the case, I just want a way out of this environment. And something tells me marriage might be the only way. Sigh!!!!!!! My non-existent love life you say? That’s a story for another day.

Next time I come back to you dear journal, I’ll pick up the pieces of our family book and put the puzzle together so it all makes sense. For now, just know that our middle name is ‘dysfunctional’ and our lingua franca is ‘drama’.

See you next time.

PROLOUGE

Dear Reader: If you are reading this then there are several possible reasons why;

-The world did not come to an end. Good thing

-The pandemic ended and I did not survive- not necessarily a good thing- and some gold diggers decided to Anne Frank it.

-The pandemic decided to disappear and I cash this baby out.

– The pandemic has shown no sign of leaving, we have learnt to live with it and I have turned my dear journal to a dreary history book.

Either ways. It is being read by you. I don’t know how this will play out. I might start coughing tomorrow and die in 5 days time- my throat has been itching- I might not write an update for weeks because may uninteresting life has become even less interesting or I may be whisked away by a royal family of handsome rich people who are adamant that their highly chivalrous and intellectual son must marry me and the pandemic will be a royal honeymoon. Then I’ll have plenty of stories to tell.

Another thing is I may be too embarrassed writing my life’s deepest senselessness and I may not be able to share all this.

        Chapter  One: The Lists

I know I’m not going back to that humid office that smells like our boss’s sweat for a long time. I feel it in my bones. Maybe Corona will mandate the closure of the wastage of time, mental energy and fashion sense that is NYSC or maybe I’ll be rusticated because of the hostile energy I exude whenever I wear that terrible Khaki that looks so nice on me. Apparently poopoo green is my colour, with the things I’m beginning to discover about myself, I’m not even surprised. 

I know I’m going to miss a few things like the chit chat with Lauje, the office assistant who is either in his twenties or fifties-I really can’t say- tall and lanky (hence the name) and whose head is clearly missing a few knots. He is loud and almost always speaks off point except he is talking about money; then he becomes a pro arithmetician.

I’ll miss looking at Mrs Binta, the lady whose real complexion remains the biggest office mystery -because a mix of the purple-brown lipstick and heavy foundation do funny things to ones visual senses- as she strolls in last every day and strolls out first because her ex-husband was the director and no one can say nothing.

I will definitely miss the epileptic wi-fi I can connect to only on the stairs on the way in and even though it means meeting and greeting people except when I’m pretending to be on the phone, it is worth downloading three episodes of Stranger Things after three hours.

I have barely stepped off the Napep when the scent of Jacqueline’s noodles swarm my senses and a wave of nostalgia hits. I already miss that heaven sent plate of noodles that tastes like epiphany. I always discover new things about life in every fork and I suspect she cooks them with weed, chicken poop or something like that so that we always keep going back for more. I told Hadiza that the other time and she looked at me as if I am a heathen for suggesting Jacqueline might have a slight.

Today, the Government have made an announcement ordering all offices to shut down. Today, I make two lists. 

One; all the things I would love to do in the three months (my estimate, seems far fetched but we shall see) it will take before Corona sorts himself out (definitely a guy). 

Second list; what I would love to do before the world wraps up and ends in the next few months because while an extreme end of my mind is hopeful, the other extreme end is in plain idiotic paranoia.

I swear when I see the figures of Covid-19 cases on the screen of TV before I walk out the moment the news starts because Millennials aren’t meant to like news, it looks like we have reached the finishing line and they are just rolling in the end credits. 

But then Anne Frank probably also thought so, then she decided to write a journal, then the world (Germany here) picked up the pieces, pieces of her memory and glorified her years of isolation and eventual death. Could be me. Being famous even if post mortem is better than passing through all this ‘The First Wave’ movie come to life without being acknowledged for my bravery. So let’s write this journal.

Here’s what my lists look like. Should we start with the gloomy one or the hopeful one?

To do list before Covid19 departs and the world gets back to normal even though I doubt that:

– Make money

– Make friends from different countries

-Eat junk

-Exercise 

-Make money 

-Get a boyfriend

-Make sure he is rich and doesn’t have smelly mouth (these two are hard to find together)

-Start planning on getting hitched (how does this even work?).

-Reconnect with family and old friends.

-Be nicer 

-Read Qur’an, learn Hadith everyday 

-Try reading a novel without having a headache and nausea

-Meditate inside a tub of warm water

-Sleeeepppp to get rid of eyebags and unwanted people

-Practice becoming ajebutter

-The boyfriend must be rich (emphasis)

-Go natural and grow hair to a healthy afro or waist length, whichever comes first.

-Melanin popping or just bleach the darn skin.

Pretty realistic right?

To do list before the world wraps up AKA Apocalyse

-Memorise Qur’an

-Have one kid, but I’ll have to marry first right? And I really have no time for that.

-Make money

-Sadaqah

-Eat junk because we will all die.

-Spend all the money on food… I repeat,  we will all die.

– Tell your crush you have a crush on him and that we will all die.

-Write a letter to your boss giving him tips on how to stop smelling like a skunk for the betterment of Earth.

-Sleep or don’t sleep. That’s your problem because we will all what…?

-Slap Tasi’u’s always clean shaven head because I really want to do that before I die.

There, done. My list looks like the beginning of an award winning movie.

Now to the implementation.

‘Hmmm! You smell like your office’, my sister greets as she walks by. 

I glare at her for a second.  ‘You see, it is these things you say that makes people contemplate suicide’

She laughs and walks away feeling like her life’s mission of annoying people 3 times in an hour is gaining momentum. 

I knew things were out of control when I found my sisters ‘To Do’ list from three years ago and in between the ‘make friends and stop talking to them’, ‘buy Iphone 8plus through prayers’ and ‘escape going to the University’, she legit has ‘annoy people for no reason at least 5 times daily’ like some sort of worship.

‘When did they take the lights?’ I ask her.

‘They never brought it back’ she screams back. 

I let out a long sigh, drag my bag behind me and vow to get a power bank the next time I go out. Then I remember Corona and I sigh even deeper. 2020 is going to be a long year, I can feel it.

Disclaimer: This journal is a pure work of fiction. It, in no way depicts the life of the writer nor any person. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Are You Okay will follow the life of our protagonist (she still has no name), and her quest to fulfill ‘the list’, or at least some part of it. She will discover how not-so-straightforward life is, how plans unfurl in funny ways, how family can be the crowd you want to avoid and how love can be found and possibly lost within a short time.

Most importantly however, she will find out about herself. And I hope everyone following this journal will open him/herself to self-discovery too.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

It is the most interesting of times…

I have been duped of the money I was given by my Dad as my poverty alleviation intervention, the guy I’ve been crushing on for a year was crushed by a truck driver and my only reaction was to laugh at the irony of how my crush got crushed, my clothes have become 3 boubous and 2 nighties because they were the only things I could fit in, I have approximately a football field of pimples playing hide and seek on my face, the world has run out of my favourite chocolate and …. Oh yes! Corona; the beginning of the end.

It is the worst of times.

The Year of Lefasefarel.
Welcome to my journal.

I don’t usually remember my dreams yet this one is quite memorable.

It’s action packed featuring characters from plenty fantasy movies (I guess)… of course Marvel characters feature.

Can’t recognise the villain but she is merciless…could be Hella.

So we were in some sort of training school (my fathers house in reality) and we were meant to have finished training but apparently some 5 of us including what (or who) I assume to be a washed down Aslam, the lion in ‘The Lion, The Witch and TheWardrobe: Chronicles of Narnia’ found out that something is wrong; some people will use the powers in there for bad so we stole a powerful silver ball and a powerful rectangular something (like a long bar of gold) covered in silver silk. Of course I stole the silver rectangle, after all it was in my fathers backyard where the tank is. I exchanged it for something frivolous.

We immediately got in the car and drove out but we weren’t past the third house when they caught on and began chasing. 

Now the place is like an academy for super heroes or sorts so imagine the powerful forces that would have been pursuing us.

Anyway, we only encountered who I suppose is Anon, who changed our field of vision so it became like a cartoon(It was like were in Micky mouse cartoon and we crashed into cars because we couldn’t see them). In hindsight, might be Mysterio with the drones. 

Anyway, my friend driving had the Peter Parker tingle after the first crash so we regained our footing and he drove away despite the deceptive simulation.

We hid somewhere for days trying to protect the treasure which has become Hufflepuffs cup or Ravenclaws diadem- I’m not sure which- but we all know its a Horcrux and little of Voldemort de dia so yes we were protecting a bit of old Voldie. Were probably death eaters sef.

For the days we were in hiding, something always happens, someone always gets in someones head and we almost get caught. Like when the witch villain took over a colleagues body and she was acting through him, which meant we thought he was one of us but she was in his body. It gave our position away (I couldn’t bear to watch that part, I had to move my cameras away). At that point I wanted to wake up but when I tried and it proved abortive, I continued because whatever happens, I knew I couldn’t physically be affected.

The villian finally got in and dragged the person safe guarding the treasure with her invisible hand powers (something like that) into a room so as to extricate it or atleast see where it is through his memory but he had managed to get out of the room long enough to give it to us without her knowing and we rannnnnnn because there was only one person to hand it to- Groot (or atleast looks and acts somewhat like Groot)

I and a black man rushed to Groots abode within a tree and called on him furiously because time was running out. I was scared he wasn’t home and we couldn’t give it to him but I knew he wasn’t because the future said so (Dr Strange now), I knew we will give Groot and even though Anty Villain will get him, it will be out chance to defeat her. I had- it seemed- scripted the whole dreamovie.

We were in Groots crammed up tight tree house (two of us could only just fit in) and I called out to him ‘The Avengers are here’, (meaning I was officially an Avenger😎) no answer. Time was running fast, Anty might catch on soon.

‘The Avengers are here’, Groot apparently heard me but he didn’t believe it because why will the Avengers look for him, to him they were little bit more believable than a myth. He appeared almost same time Thor did and he saw us and still thought it some parody or halloween-ers trick or treating.

I explained the situation and Groot was ecstatic to help while Thor looked hungry and thin (probably ran out of money since he quit his King job). Then we came out and the place was like an old farm with a field full of hay. We saw and spoke briefly to some people who were… I don’t know Men in Black?

Then I heard the fajr Athan and I couldn’t have been happier. Even in dreams you won’t rest with super hero duties.

Submitted by Aisha Hamza

  I arrived at Tara’s apartment a little past eight p.m. She enveloped me in a warm hug and led me to the lavishly set dinning area where candle lights were competing with porcelain dishes . Sitting down, I allowed my eyes roam on the body hugging sequined dress that flattered Tara’s beautiful body. I might just propose tonight.

  Tara excused herself and went into the kitchen. Suddenly something moved from the shadows and surfaced in form of Tiara. She didn’t give me time to recover from my shock as she said “long time no see Ayo”. There was no way my ex from hell was sitting across from me. Too shocked to say a word, beads of perspiration gathered on my forehead.

“Tiara, I see you’ve met Ayo already” It was Tara’s honeyed voice. What in the world was going on? I mused. Tiara flashed Tara a smile. 

    “Ayo, this is my twin sister Tiara”. The universe must be playing tricks on me. “Remember the two girls on the night of the 27th, 2008. Your boys and you. Remember the rape Ayo”?
It was Tiara speaking.
I looked up and saw Tara holding a gun. “It’s payback time Ayo”. Smiling, she pulled the trigger. 

This story was written as an entry to the Flash Fiction contest hence the theme but unfortunately, due to technical issues, it was not received.

Writers Bio

Aisha Hamza

Aisha Hamza is an ardent and growing creative writer who is passionate about stringing words together. She is a poetic soul with the pen of a word artist and hopes that some day,her name would be written in gold amongst a legion of renowned writers.

She dipped the kitchen towel in a bowl of hot water and placed it on her hand. She winced as the heat seared through her tender flesh. There was a cut and several small injuries on the back of her hand and she couldn’t let anyone see it, especially the people where she was going.

She placed a band-aid and covered the small cut around her knuckles with foundation, she was wearing a long-sleeved gown to shade her wound from prying eyes. People, always trying to establish your life is not perfect like theirs.

She wasn’t going to address the cause of her pain until she’s back. He was probably on their matrimonial bed still asleep, but she had to get up, because she had to work, because she had to feed the family while he slept like a bunch of rotten bananas.

She checked her watch, frowned at how the small hand had ticked clockwise faster than she had wanted and hissed. The lecture wouldn’t deliver itself, she said to herself. Domestic violence, it seemed was a much sought after topic. Battered women where having none of the bullshit anymore, and she was proud. She stared at her bruised hand, she was proud of them.

Iridescent flowers that have already started darkening by the edges, that was what they looked like. Their faces lighted up in understanding and agreement as they stared ardently at her, eagerly sucking up each word like a child with an insatiable appetite of milk.

She shivered slightly at the sight of the innocence painted on their faces, innocence that for some, has already started getting tainted with a dark paint. She needed to save them; from themselves and from the others be it their parents, partners or the society… or all.

And so her voice got stronger with each word, with each message, with each example stating a hundred and one reasons why a woman is the owner of her body and why no one, can take that away from her.

‘The word ‘woman’ has, for a long time been taken to be synonymous to ‘weakness’, and that is why the girl child has been conceived of weakness, birthed by weakness and brought up in weakness. It has been drummed in our brains for so long we begin to believe in that and that is why when our husbands batter us’ she cringed at the thought of that ‘it is taken for granted and blame is heaped solely on us, the weakness’ her voice dripped of passion. She needed them to understand that they needed to stand up for themselves, she needed them to understand there in the grand looking assembly hall of the school of the elite children before it was too late.

‘But not anymore’, she went on. ‘The modern woman is strength and power. She understands that she is human before woman, she understands that she is woman and therefore priceless, she understands that dowry is not a ticket to torture, she understands that she is the owner of her body and she will fight to see that every other person accepts same’. She concluded.

The thunderous applause made her jolt a bit in fright. She stood stunned as the crowd of young secondary school girls and teachers stood up and cheered.

It always happened like that and that was why they scouted lectures so much from her for whenever she was delivering a lecture on violence against women, she was never herself. She was a woman from fifteen years ago who had been dragged and man handled, slapped across the face and told to shut up or the knife glistening in the dark will be buried within her. And she had to stifle her scream and lie for hour-like minutes until the deed was done and her innocence, gone. The most painful part being she knew who it was, and she knew he was a coward as only cowards hit women.

She smiled and lowered her eyes as if shy. The rage of being a victim had subsided and she was back to herself.

The admiration in the eyes of the female students and the profusely stated appreciations were enough for her. Her job was done.

She didn’t want to go back home. She didn’t want to face him or anyone. She just wanted to drive away, far away, but she knew she couldn’t, she knew she had to face her worse nightmare who shared her bed every day for 5 years.

The moment she pushed the door open and heard the sound of feet shuffling, she knew he was home. Where else would he be? Useless man.

‘Come here’. Silence.

‘I said come here’. Now with obvious annoyance.

She felt the rage creep back in. He always had that effect on her ever since he decided it was a good idea to rape her. Little did he know, he fucked with the wrong girl.

10 years after the rape, she had bloomed into a beautiful woman,and he had thought that she had forgotten as it happened a long time ago. And so when she did everything young ladies were prone to do to get the attention of men they liked, he had succumbed and had fallen prey. Some months later, they were married, what he will come to discover was her plot for revenge all along.

She had made his life a living hell from the first year of their wedding. She had made him lose his job, distanced him from family and friends and basically made him dependent on her so that all the power were in her palms, the palms she used to batter him all day as she relieved that dark night that awakened the monster in her.

Her fists were still sore from the punch she had given him last night and she could see him visibly shake as her palms curled to fists.

‘Bloody coward. I hope you tell this story to your fellow weak men who hit women’. She spat out in disgust and landed him another punch.